The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey
PUBLISHED BY ALLEN & UNWIN
REVIEW BY ALLY M
A tense thriller, The Dark Lake follows young female detective Gemma as she unravels a murder mystery in her hometown. This seemingly straightforward scenario is muddied by the victim being an old high school classmate she equally obsessed about and hated, who was murdered near the suicide spot of her old boyfriend. Awkward.
Small towns always hold more secrets and backstory than you’d imagine at first glance and Smithson, set in rural Australia, is no different. Affairs, paternity doubt and the suicide of Gemma’s high school boyfriend all add layer upon layer of stress to the story. About a third of the way into the book I felt I could see the gigantic train crash of storylines looming ahead of me and had to put it down for a while.
The tension is built up to almost melting point, but thankfully backs off a little, allowing the reader to continue with the intrigue of the story rather than focus on the dread of the crash. It’s easy to want to like Gemma, but her emotional baggage makes it hard for anyone to get close. However, that is an underlying theme throughout her story – she pushes away friends and family as she comes to terms with her old boyfriend's death until eventually it all comes to a head.
The resolution of the plot lines is sympathetic, climatic and brings it all to a satisfying close. Until the last 30 pages I had not worked out whodunnit – which I love to do – which made me want to keep reading, turning the pages, worrying for the lead until it is all quickly tied up neatly.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.